Home / Crime Watch / THE CRIMINAL IN ALL OF US: The Nigerian Perspective (1)

THE CRIMINAL IN ALL OF US: The Nigerian Perspective (1)

The paper posits that the Nigerian society derives benefit from the existence of crime because the Nigerian clime works to maintain rather than to eliminate crime. Because in Nigeria crime seems to pay, because the benefits far outweigh the costs, and often there are even no costs at all, Nigeria has become a society inhabited by criminals and their cohorts who breed, recruit and maintain ready and reliable supply of deviants and criminals. Crime is not only a normal and

consistent product of our life; the impelling forces making for delinquency and crime are actually

inherent deeply and pervasive in the culture of the Nigerian society. It is hypothesized, therefore,

that crime not only pays in Nigeria but the country typifies a criminogenic and crime-generating society. The criminality Perceived in all of us prompted O. Ndibe (2003) and Osa Director (2003) respectively to summarized the Nigerian State in the following insightful comment:

“Nigeria is firmly in the hands of certified Criminals.”

“Like Corruption, Evil walks on four legs unmolested in Nigeria”.

In examining the various perspectives that have attempted to capture the causes of criminality in Nigeria vis-a-vis the subsequent proposed solutions; the researcher has chosen the work of Professor Patrick Edobor Igbinovia as the most valid explanation with which to examine the menace. This is as a result of the theory’s comprehensiveness, objectivity and contemporariness. This choice has been made out of other available theories such as the Rational/Radical theory, Human Needs/Socio-economic theory, psychological theory, biology theory, Morality theory, etc. The Perpetuity Theory of Crime (PTC) is developed to explain these phenomenal happenings the causes of crime in Nigeria and why crime currently in motion in Nigeria tends to stay in motion. Furthermore, forecasts are also made about the future of crime in Nigeria and

suggestions to stem the malaise are tendered. It is hoped that better times will come on the heels

of the inauspicious ones that the country is currently experiencing.

In sum, it is concluded that because Nigerians covertly and overtly want crime, need crime, and

gain definite satisfactions and benefits from crime and because criminality is endemic in the land

and criminals litter the Nigerian landscape, there is THE CRIMINAL IN ALL OF US.

The statement ‘Are criminals born, or made?’ is wide reaching and has remained the subject of many debates. Beginning over a hundred years ago in the late 18th century, social and criminal anthropologists began to wonder at the causes of criminality and delinquency and set about to investigate them. Most theorists at the time believed that it had to be a deep-rooted trait, an innate tendency. Over the years that followed, many other sociologists and psychologists have tried to decipher this complicated question, some staying on the side of biological causes, and some looking further into environmental causes. There are many factors surrounding the arguments for both sides, a few of which is addressed in this essay. We will attempt to conclude which of these theories holds the most weight, and why.

However, the ‘International Congress of Criminal Anthropology’ was critical. They believed that the origins of crime lay in social conditions rather than with innate tendencies. This however was initially a dangerous tact as it bred a belief that the prevention of crime required the development of eugenics, whereby state agencies could implement programs of social and moral improvement through breeding.

I want to ask: Whose Ox have we not really taken?

An eminent American criminologist and scholar, Professor Kai T. Erikson, has suggested in his

book THE WAYWARD PURITANS that societies derive benefit from the existence of crime

and thus there is a reason to believe that societies and/or social institutions work to maintain

rather than to eliminate crime. Professor Erikson’s theory is based on the view of crime propounded by Emile Durkheim in one of his classic books on sociological theory titled: THE DIVISION OF LABOUR IN SOCIETY (1949). Durkheim suggests that crime and other forms of deviation actually perform a needed service to society by promoting social harmony or bond of solidarity. Indeed, the Durkheim –Erikson thesis insightfully shows that societies may promote behaviour that they seem to desire to stamp out, and that failure to eliminate deviance may be a success of some sort. In sum, they hypothesize that CRIME PAYS. Karl Messinger best sums up the point: The inescapable conclusion is that society secretly wants crime, needs crime, and gains definite satisfactions from the present mishandling of it.

In this work, I will attempt to show that Nigeria not only typifies such a society, it is a

criminogenic society. As Professor David Fogel would say, “WE ARE THE LIVING PROOF”

of this existential and self-evident truism. The research is a simple one: It is that there is hardly any Nigerian living today that can claim that he or she has not advertently or inadvertently by commission or omission been involved in crimes or benefited directly or indirectly from criminality or deviance or the commission of crimes or the proceeds of criminality. If there is any one among us who has never been involved in crime, delinquency, deviant behaviour, private or public deviance or moral turpitude (detected or undetected) or benefited from these activities, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, then, may be that person is a living Saint or is truly the Messiah we have all been waiting for!

It would appear that in Nigeria The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born as we have been rated with the largest number of dummy corporations on the African continent; the largest number of business scams, and as a result, probably the largest number of fictitious government officers and officials anywhere on this planet . Crime and criminality remains unabated, and is, in fact, increasing at an alarming growth rate, and will perhaps, remain so into the distant future because Nigerians appear to benefit from crime and hate to see it abate. Indeed, crime in Nigeria seems to be a roaring success and criminals, success stories. Nigerians go to the extent of encouraging, promoting, instigating, and reinforcing criminal behaviour or thwarting efforts to stem it. The net results of all these are such unpalatable comments from diverse sources about Nigeria, thus Nigerians are perhaps the most organized criminals of all on a global scale.

Crime is a major industry in Nigeria — a low or non-investment but high profit yielding,

Profit-generating and profit oriented multi-billion Naira business industrial enterprise;

If we stood before the mirror it would reveal the darker outlines of our faces: that we are either

criminals or beneficiaries of the criminal enterprise or both.

I will end the discussion by tracing some of the principal sources of our crime problems in Nigeria, look into the crystal ball for what may be in stock for us in the future and tender ways or directions that can get us out of the woods, sanitize Nigeria and rid it of the crime malaise that has been plaguing it since birth. Hopefully, our prescription will also help restore our lost self-dignity and self-respect among our countrymen and in the comity of decent nations. My approach is historical, scientific, methodical, and deliberately humorous yet intellectually serious and robust, somewhat simple and anecdotal but nevertheless a product, I believe, of a sound mind in a sound body. A caveat is in order, though: the audience or listeners may find the sinews of my arguments acerbic and provocative or perhaps consider my judgments faulty; but I hope they will accept my reasons which are empirically supported by studies I have undertaken in the past 8 years. My intention is to provoke thought and to prick our national conscience.

However, to those who find my arguments provocative and controversial, I have a simple

answer: Don’t convert a scientific issue into a moral one.

As we have seen, criminality is endemic in the land and criminals litter the landscape: Political

violence is rife, few people pay tax and the few who pay cheat by underpaying; we are happy to

ride in stolen Belgium cars and enjoy other accessories; we encourage our children to be

Prostitutes/drug barons/couriers; we patronize the black market rather than the regular one; we

rig elections and kill people to get into office to enjoy the spoils from it; we seek employment in

banks and investment houses in order to steal other people’s money and fritter away depositors

funds; we involve ourselves in foreign exchange rackets and reap where we have not sown; we

refuse to pay utility bills and fleece government agencies of needed revenue for development

thereby contributing to the economic adversity of the country; we inflate contract awards and

present fake receipts to cover items not purchased; we obtained first degree in armed robbery and advance fee fraud(419) and graduated for master in kidnapping and militancy while proceeding for PHD candidature in terrorism and suicide bombing, we allow ethnic militias, hoodlums and area boys to rule the waves; and law enforcement agents, political and civil leadership, workers,

students and sundry individuals engage in criminal malfeasance and are corrupt and inept. Crime is an equal opportunity employer, where all of us in Nigeria are either partakers or beneficiaries or both. Indeed, we corrupt officials of these agencies to look the other way; even passengers shout down at drivers who refuse to offer brides to law enforcement agents because it is expedient for them to do so. We enroll our children in schools in remote rural schools where they can cheat and enhance their chances of passing; we settle NEPA/NITEL/Water Board/Revenue Officers and other state officials in order to influence them to cut down on our bills and short change the system. Our traditional rulers and religious leaders lack majesty and honour and are no longer revered: they now keep company with the corrupt and wicked; while our police officers are not only colluding with criminal elements, they now also serve them as body guards and escorts, contractors submit tenders making provisions for kickbacks.

We have, therefore, become abettors, accessories, beneficiaries, benefactors and participators in

crimes and the criminal enterprise in Nigeria. Thus, the country has become a personative

realism of an absurdist criminogenic state. Indeed, crime pays in Nigeria and Nigerians love and

adores criminals.

The import of this paper is that NIGERIA IS A CRIMINOGENIC SOCIETY: criminals and

deviants walk the Nigerian landscape as teachers, professors, doctors, welders, nurses, civil

servants, police officers, carpenters, labourers, drivers, messengers, lecturers, accountants,

prophets, pastors, Ministers, Commissioners, soldiers, Permanent secretaries, Directors-General,sailors, business tycoons, lawyers, students, parents, judges, leaders, Reverend sisters and Gentlemen and Governors and Presidents. The vandalistic gallantry of all of us has all but ruined our country: Nigerians have become criminals and crime in the country has become a major profit-oriented industry. Indeed, the country has become a nation where anything goes, a nation of OUTLAWS, WAYWARD and LAWLESS Nigerians, a nation of DEAD SOULS ,etc. The question we have sought to answer in this paper is: “WHOSE OX HAVE WE NOT

TAKEN?” Although, every one knows the simple answer to this question, no one will own up to

  1. That is the way we are. We always prefer to use oceans of rhetoric to drown out the torrents of

truth about ourselves at hundred years of existence. It has always been so with us and it is still so with us today. Oh God let us not write our PHD thesis in war, of course the sovereign national conference is here!





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